No more fossil-fuel generation plants spewing greenhouse gases, lead and noxious mercury into the air, and from there into water and soil. No more cars, buses and trucks spitting out equal or greater amounts of pollutants and fumes to be absorbed by sensitive lungs, whether human, bird or animal.
Of course, Denmark, east of the UK and west of Latvia, is a tiny country of 16,640 square kilometers (smaller than the state of Washington), with a population of 5.5 million, or fewer than the state of Wisconsin.
A constitutional monarchy operating under a parliament and mixed-bag form of capitalism, Denmark has the world’s highest ratio of income equality and was four times voted “the happiest place in the world” by Forbes Magazine (2006-2009; we even did the link tracking through Forbes endless landing pages to prove it!). Forbes says that Denmark also has the best business climate in the world.
The transition to a clean, “green” energy economy will rely on the same mixed-bag that serves the real economy, with offshore wind leading. But solar will also be a part of that mix, along with biomass, geothermal and heat pumps.
The solar photovoltaic (PV) portion of that mix will be aimed primarily at residential and small business, and used to supplement wind. The advantage of solar PV being a fallback for wind is a curious synergy between the two technologies created by Nature herself; the sun doesn’t shine at night, which is when wind blows hardest!
Larger solar installations will also provide some district heating, either as solar PV or passive heating technologies, and all forms of solar are expected to be able to contribute at least half of the clean energy mix, especially as cutting-edge renewable energy storage technologies are instituted.
It’s a serious goal, and renewable energy naysayers consistently point out that – precisely because Denmark is a tiny country – it will be an easy goal to achieve. Not so much for the U.S., however, and larger countries. I fail to see the reasoning behind this.
Except for the fact that Denmark has a decent economy (it clearly didn’t allow bandits to tank the financial system), and a social welfare approach to caring for people (which keeps money out of the paws of said bandits), it has no greater workforce and no more money, per capita, than any other country, and its solar resources are certainly no greater than the U.S. In fact, at a latitude of 56° N, or midway through Canada, Denmark’s solar resources are obviously less than anywhere in the continental U.S.
Yet Denmark is determined to be carbon-free by mid-century, proving yet again that cleaning up one’s environmental act is more a matter of political will and the cooperation of concerned individuals, companies and leaders than it is a financial or social mandate.